Letter from Charles Doughty-Wylie to Gertrude Bell written over two days, the 1st and the 3rd of January, 1915.
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1 Jan. 1915.
My dear Gertrude.
It being New Year’s day what can I do better than to write you a thousand good wishes, and the good things – your most interesting letter from Boulogne came yesterday, and I suppose the censor will study the letter to see if Menelik will invade Flanders – But that won’t impede the good wishes which it bears –
Your bureau must do a great deal of good work, and a double entry index is formidable work – I know you must be desperately busy – you said you might be called back to Rounton, but that would be a very great pity – convalescents don’t want much looking after, anybody can do that. My wife at Frevent will be very busy too – She doubled her establishment for Beauvais to 80 beds, and then at the last minute the place was requisitioned for typhoids and wounded refused – these things are the daily disappointments of such work. She works with the Dames francaises, a society of which she is a life member, and Mdme Carnot appears to be helping her in every possible way – As to Sir Savile Crossley’s views which I was very glad to have, no doubt it was that way of seeing which lead the Red X to tell us to wait - & which lead us to offer to the French – Personally the French accounts lead me to be of an opposite opinion – Between the pont & Paris even, let alone London, hundreds have died miserably in cattle trucks, who should have been saved – At least this is the view of the French Surveyor-General – the delays in the trains are so terrible – I’ve had men die in my barge often between Chatalja & Stembaul, 4 hours – and there are never enough hospital trains. But the thing is to work somewhere at something useful, and though I would sooner have been with the English, there are plenty of other people waiting.
Here at that fateful word “waiting” I felt inclined to let loose my private groans – for I see no chance of getting out of this – I have Walker it is true, and am trying again – but feel hopeless. However there is no good talking of it, not even to you, most understanding of friends –
Lij Yasu has bolted off north – anything or nothing may happen – nothing probably – but we can’t say this for certain –
Very glad you saw Philip & that he was well – It must be a terrible hard life out there – but the men who like myself are not there, will never feel quite the same again, hard or no – its no good telling us it is not our fault.
That was a splendid raid at Cuxhaven, and it does one good to hear of such things, even in the barest & most meagre of telegrams – my brother has gone to sea, flag captain in the Sutlej – an old cruiser of no speed or gun power, sister ship to the Hogue, Cressy etc., but its much better no doubt than everlastingly teaching reservists gunnery and everlastingly seeing them go to sea where you would be yourself. Of course I don’t know where he has gone – Theberton is within sight of the sea, so I expect this invasion talk fills the village – which has now about 70 men serving –
I hear now that the French are starting a censorship at Jibuti – much good may it do them – but it cramps my style – By next week I’ll have found out if they open letters – I’ll seal this – please tell me if it has been opened.